Old Sacramento Tree Lighting - photo by SonyaIn all the years I have lived in Sacramento, I have noticed time and again my friends and neighbors making plans to get out of town for the Holidays.  I completely understand making plans for a ski vacation to the Sierras because, well...we don't actually have snow here in Sacramento.  Or traveling to visit family because being with loved ones is what Christmas is all about, right?  However, I'm consistently baffled by those who try to squeeze in a trip to say, Disneyland during the holidays.  If you haven't done that, you know you have thought about it!  You could not pay me to visit Disneyland at the holidays.  It's too crowded, overpriced...and there is plenty to do right here in our own backyard.  No traveling involved. 

Up until a few years ago we (myself, my husband and two kiddos) were right out on the road with the rest of you, heading out of town to spend Christmas with family.  Although the company was always fantastic, the traveling itself (with two active little boys) often turned into a stressful nightmare. One year we decided to do the unthinkable.  Stay home for Christmas.  Home is good old Sacramento.  And you know what?  We discovered that Sacramento during the holidays is a wonderfully fun and festive place to be!  Sure, the weather might be cold and rainy, but it just might be fabulously warm and sunny.  Regardless of the weather, Sacramento during the holidays is festive and downright jolly with an abundance of holiday activities, events and celebrations happening all season long. Sacramento's Outdoor Ice Skating Rink at the Downtown Plaza - photo by Ray Bouknight

Do you love the theater?  Then you won't want to miss White Christmas at Runaway Stage Productions.  Music?  Home for the Holidays  with Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra.  The ballet?  Then the Sacramento Ballet's The NutcrackerCraft Fairs?  We've got plenty of them.  Ice skating?  Yep!  Shopping?  Galore! Okay, okay.  You get the picture.  There are plenty of holiday activities for adults here in Sacramento, but what about for the little people in our lives?

There are more than enough kid-oriented, family-friendly activities for our special little kiddos, too.  Take them to see The Magic Toyshop at RSP.  Or to the Santa Parade downtown.  Are they animal lovers?  They'll love Holiday Magic at the Sacramento Zoo where they get to watch the animals open up their holiday gifts.  What little boy doesn't love trains?  Visit the California Railroad Museum during Small Train Holiday.  Then head up to Woodland to hop on the Sacramento River Train (pj's encouraged) for a fun-filled holiday trip along the Sacramento River.  How about sneaking in a bit of history?  Yep, you could do that at Sutter's Fort with Simple Emigrant Christmas and your kids won't even suspect they are being educated.  Sacramento's Santa Parade - photo by Helen NorrisHow's that for great parenting?

What about your annual family tour of Christmas lights?  First, take your pick of two lovely tree lightings.  The Capitol Tree lighting and the Old Sacramento Tree Lighting.  Then make your way to one of many fun and festive area neighborhoods to view lights and decorations.  For a complete list of displays worth a visit, click here

Want to cut down a real live Christmas tree this year?  Make the short and scenic drive into the Sierra foothills where you'll find plenty of tree farms near Apple Hill.  You might even run into some snow!  Then stop off in the picturesque town of Placerville (think painter Thomas Kinkade Christmas) for some lunch...maybe a little shopping.  If you happen to be in the area the first weekend in December, drop in for Placerville's 34th Annual Christmas Parade right there on main street. 

So, you see?  If you stick close to home this holiday season, you just might have the most relaxing and festive holiday yet.  You can go to Disneyland any old time...but Christmas in Sacramento comes around only once a year.  Enjoy it!